This may come as no surprise to many of you. According to statistics issued by the Department of Environ-mental Conserv-ation, 85 percent of the State of New York’s 560,000 licensed big game hunters hunt the southern zone of the state. That’s not to say all of them spend their deer hunting time exclusively in that zone, just that 85 percent of them spend at least some time in that zone. In addition, the southern zone accounts for roughly 60 percent of the annual deer harvest in NYS.
That’s not difficult to understand, because the southern zone contains the most deer as well as most of the prime deer habitat. While these statistics are interesting, that in no way minimizes my personal intent to hunt the northern zone as long as I can. It represents the kind of deer hunting I grew up with and where I learned to hunt deer.
It’s also where I took my first buck and, though the hunting and the terrain may be tougher, it’s still the only place in the state where one can get a true feel of what deer hunting is all about. It’s a question of survival of the fittest; any buck that can survive several Adirondack winters will grow into a real slammer, and a trophy by anyone’s standards.
The northern zone regular season closes at sunset Sunday, Dec. 4, but a late muzzleloader season opens in portions of the North Country Monday, Dec. 5, and closes Sunday, Dec. 11.
Conversely, the southern zone regular season closes Sunday, Dec. 11, and the late muzzleloader and archery seasons open Monday, Dec. 12, and close at sunset Tuesday, Dec. 20.
REPORT YOUR TAKE
Don’t forget you’re required to report your deer or bear take, regardless of zone, within seven days of harvest. You can do so online by going to www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor on the web or by calling the toll-free automated phone reporting system at 1-866-426-3778. Failure to report your harvested deer or bear is a violation of NYS Environ-mental Conservation Law.
Also, successful bear hunters are asked to submit a tooth from their bear so DEC can age the bruin and monitor bear population dynamics. Agency staffers can’t physically check every bruin taken, so hunter cooperation is an important contribution to bear management. The information gathered is useful in assessing the impact of harvest on the bear population, by determining the average age of harvested bruins in the various bear hunting areas. Also, by recording this information over a period of years the agency’s biologists can more accurately model bruin populations in the state.
PULL A TOOTH
First, report your bear take as required, then DEC will either contact you to arrange examination of the bear or will send you a tooth collection packet. If you take your bruin to a taxidermist, he may submit the tooth for you.
If you or your taxidermist submits a tooth from your bear, DEC will send you a letter sometime in late summer informing you of your bear’s age at the time it was harvested. You’ll also receive a NYS Black Bear Management Cooperator Patch to save or put on your favorite hunting jacket or shirt.
I have eight of those patches already; unfortunately, they’re all from Quebec or Ontario. I’ve never harvested a bruin here in New York state. I guess my education isn’t complete yet. I did have a good-sized bruin walk up to with 30 yards of me while I was hunting in Schoharie County several years ago, but that was a year before it became legal to harvest them there.
WOLF VS. COYOTE
Sincerest thanks to Bruce Bush of Caroga Lake, who took the time to send me several reprints of newspaper columns from early 1968, recounting the demise of what apparently turned out to be a wolf. The critter was first thought to be a large dog, but a particularly troublesome one, since it had tussled with a Caroga Lake dog and even ransacked a residence in the area. The critter was eventually killed by a pickup truck and later identified by DEC as an 84-pound wolf.
Now let’s fast-forward a few decades or so. Sometime in the early 1990s, I believe, a coyote hunter in the southern Adirondacks took what he thought was a truly big coyote. To make a long story short, it turned out to be a wolf and the hide was subsequently confiscated by DEC and federal employees.
However, I did managed to visit him and get a few photos of the critter shortly after it was taken and even before it had been skinned. I can’t locate the original photos but I did find a few copies I had scanned and saved. The quality isn’t what I would like but I’ll send them along with this column anyway in the event Hamilton County Express can work some magic on them.
If so, you’ll see the critter, frozen, alongside a sizable coyote. If I recall correctly, the wolf weighed about 80 pounds and was quite healthy. It was taken while in the company of several coyotes and was feeding on a deer carcass at the time. That’s all I can recall of the situation.
When time permits I’ll go through all my column copies and try to find out more about it, but it’ll be a laborious project since it was a year or two prior to my saving columns on discs and other storage devices.